“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Smithfield in Isle of Wight County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Fort Boykin Historic Park

Fort Boykin image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Laura Troy, September 23, 2007
1. Fort Boykin
Inscription.  The Warraskoyack Indians had a town south of Fort Boykin in the vicinity of Tormentor Creek and another on Jones Creek near the mouth of the Pagan River. John Smith stayed with them on his 1608 mission to Powhatan’s residence on the York River and on a similar mission the following year. The latter meeting was fraught with tension.

By 1609, drought had withered the crops, and the Natives were weary of English demands for food. A peace treaty and the marriage of Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas to John Rolfe in 1614 led to quieter times, during which the English expanded their holdings far beyond their agreement with Powhatan. In 1622, Powhatan’s successor, Opechancanough, organized punitive attacks against the incursive settlements, which killed many colonists. He then withdrew, but the English responded with warfare against all of the region’s Indians.

A True Servant to the Country.
Fort Boykin began its role in American history in 1623 and since then has been involved in every military campaign fought on American soil. On May 11, 1623, Capt. Roger Smyth was commissioned to construct a fortification
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to protect the colonists against “Spaniards by sea and Indians by land.” The steep cliff here, its commanding view of the James River and its naturally deep ditches made the site of Fort Boykin ideal. It was then christened The Castle.

During the Revolutionary War, Fort Boykin was refortified and renamed after Maj. Francis Boykin, then serving on Gen. George Washington’s staff. The fort was again used during the War of 1812.

The present earthwork fortification was constructed during the Civil War by the Confederate army between June 1861 and May 1862. It was part of the system for blocking access to Richmond by river. The fort was captured by Union troops shortly after its completion and since then has remained essentially intact.

Capt. John Smith’s Trail
John Smith knew the James River by its Algonquian name: Powhatan, the same as the region’s paramount chief. Smith traveled the river many times between 1607 and 1609, trading with Virginia Indians to ensure survival at Jamestown. What he saw of Virginia’s verdant woodlands and pristine waters inspired him to explore the greater Chesapeake Bay, chronicling its natural wonders. • Capt. John Smith’s Trail on the James is a 40-site water trail and auto tour for modern explorers.
Erected by Captain John Smith’s Adventure
Fort Boykin Historic Park Markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, May 2, 2009
2. Fort Boykin Historic Park Markers
on the James. (Marker Number 35.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraExplorationSettlements & SettlersWar, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1914.
Location. 37° 2.029′ N, 76° 37.071′ W. Marker is near Smithfield, Virginia, in Isle of Wight County. Marker is at the intersection of Fort Boykin Trail and Mogarts Beach Road (County Route 673) on Fort Boykin Trail. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Smithfield VA 23430, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fort Boykin (here, next to this marker); Welcome to Fort Boykin Historic Park (a few steps from this marker); Bennett’s Plantation (approx. 1.6 miles away); Basse’s Choice (approx. 1.6 miles away); Wrenn’s Mill (approx. 2½ miles away); Old Town (approx. 3½ miles away); Founding Site of Smithfield Packing Company (approx. 3½ miles away); Isle of Wight County War Memorial (approx. 3.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Smithfield.
James River image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Laura Troy, September 23, 2007
3. James River
Passage to Richmond by water is possible by the James River. Primarily, this is the reason Fort Boykin was used in the Civil War to protect Richmond.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 24, 2007, by Laura Troy of Burke, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,568 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on September 24, 2007, by Laura Troy of Burke, Virginia.   2. submitted on May 4, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.   3. submitted on September 24, 2007, by Laura Troy of Burke, Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 2, 2023